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Poulin is bright spot in Isles defeat

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The Islanders held a one-goal lead entering the third period Thursday night against the Dallas Stars due to the strong play of rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin, who made 19-of-20 saves heading into the final stanza. But a breakdown on the penalty kill and an odd-man-rush led to two unanswered goals, lifting the Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Islanders.

“It’s really disappointing as a group to drop three in a row like that, especially when things were going so well for us,” Islanders forward PA Parenteau said. “We need to get back to winning games, we had our chances, we didn’t play our best game, but we had the lead. We were in the game, but bad penalties and a nice bounce led to their winning goal. We have to learn how to play with the lead and hopefully moving forward we are going to address that.”

Jamie Benn attempts to control the puck in front of Kevin Poulin at Nassau Coliseum on December 15, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Brenden Morrow’s goal 1:07 into the final stanza tied the score. With Tim Wallace in the box for interference, Mike Ribiero slid a pass into the far corner to Steve Ott. The Dallas forward cut to the net and found Morrow on the far side for a clear shot.

“You have to figure it out, but you have to do the right things at the right times,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “The power play goal they got, we were too high with our strong-side D and they make a real simple pass to the backdoor guy. In those cases, you have to make yourself big. You have to deny that pass.”

Three minutes and 26 seconds later, Jamie Benn scored the game winner for the Stars. Leading a three-on-one up the ice on lone Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic, Benn picked his spot and snapped a shot past Poulin for his eighth goal of the season.

“On the odd-man rush, we had four guys below the hash mark, which should never happen,” Capuano said. “We haven’t done it most of the year and then all the sudden we decided to go down. They come back the other way. You have to know who you’re out against; a couple of their best players were on the ice.”
Poulin wasn’t happy with the winning goal.

“I was just thinking too much,” the Isles goaltender said. “Sometimes you just want to do too much and in that case, he caught me low glove. I was expecting a little pass on a 3-on-1. Usually there’s a pass. He got me.”

But it was the play of Poulin that stood out in Capuano’s mind.

“I thought he was great,” Capuano said of his netminder, who made 26 saves in his NHL season debut. “That’s a game we should have won. I thought he played extremely well. He was confident, he was aggressive. He was really good tonight. They had some quality chances early on and he came up big, especially on the power play.”

I felt great after a couple first saves. I really felt that I was into the game and didn’t lose anything from last year. Except that five minutes (in the third), it was a great first game for me. - Kevin Poulin
Overall, Poulin was happy to get into his first NHL game of the season, but wished he could have earned the win and helped the Isles notch another two points in the standings.

“I felt great after a couple first saves,” Poulin said. “I really felt that I was into the game and didn’t lose anything from last year. Except that five minutes (in the third), it was a great first game for me. They are third in the Western Conference so it’s a good team, a good challenge for me, but we didn’t get the win.”

Notes: Loui Eriksson put the Stars on the scoreboard first with a goal at 8:36 of the opening stanza, but Michael Grabner evened the score at 16:38. Kyle Okposo found the back of the net at 18:24 of the second, putting the Isles ahead 2-1, before the Stars came back with two unanswered goals in the third period.

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